Markets in Focus

Higher Education

Q3 2021

Markets in Focus  |  Education Higher Education Q3 2021

Though many have struggled to operate in the COVID-19 pandemic, our nation’s education system has seen unmatched challenges over the last year and a half. The rush to slow the spread of the virus led to closures of schools across the country, with little time to ensure continuity of instruction or to create a framework for deciding when and how to reopen schools. These institutions had to learn hard lessons fast in 2020-21 and, as a new school year begins, states, colleges and universities continue to grapple with the high-stakes decisions on COVID-19 protocols. As colleges and universities evaluate how best to protect their students and faculty, parents and students can only look on and do their best to react to the constant state of change.

After a year where many students were learning in front of computer screens or attending classes with limited capacity and social distancing measures in place, many colleges were eager to get back to offering their students a traditional college experience this fall. This is especially true considering colleges and universities already lost billions of dollars when they pivoted to digital instruction in the form of refunded room-and-board payments, less money spent on dining halls and campus bookstores, less dorm rooms rented and expensive technology for online courses.¹ Overall, 2021 higher education spring enrollment fell to 16.9M from 17.5M a year ago, marking a decline of 3.5 percent or 603,000 students.² Another semester – or year – of online courses could bring even more financial pressure, especially for universities without large endowments. As campuses hope to keep their doors open this year, senior administrators will need to have strong risk management and insurance programs in place in order to combat the challenges that lie ahead for this school year.